Hey, come in! Why not have a nose around my eldest daughter’s room? She’s only four. And she doesn’t know what a blog is, let alone that I have one, so she’s unlikely to object for some time yet.
I spent a long time when Rosa was a baby (and in fact, whilst she was in utero) thinking and planning and worrying about what her room should look like. I was never under any illusion that all of this mental activity was for her…I am by nature a ‘nesty’ pregnant person, and I wanted to take all my nerves and hormones, and turn them into a lovely room that I could go into when I was feeling worried, and look around at lovely things, and feel soothed. So I perused the nursery selections at Mothercare, Mamas and Papas, Jojomamanbebe, and others. I knew I didn’t want anything too matchy, and I knew that anything obviously gendered was an absolute no no, for political as well as aesthetic reasons. So the theme I went for eventually was a kind of hybrid: ‘jolliness’ was a definite guiding principle, with ‘if you get things you like, they will go together’ being another. I suppose if I’m being pretentious, there is a bit of a touch of Scandinavian style in there (although it’s more Ikea than Danish designer, sadly!), and on a less pretentious note, I went for a neutral base with touches of patterns and bright colours.
And I realised very early on that we were not going to be ordering a complete set of matching nursery furniture from any of the major retailers (Me in 2008, pregnant and appalled, “HOW MUCH?!”) which was a direct contributing factor to the ‘mix and match’ philosophy I have applied to the furniture as well. The wardrobe above is not only Ikea, but secondhand Ikea, gratefully accepted from Oli’s colleague who was clearing out his house. The chest of drawers ditto from my aunt and uncle.
What I’m really pleased about is that over time, it’s really become genuinely a room of Rosa’s treasures, rather than a styled ‘pre-baby arrival’ nursery with a shelf containing one teddy / one wooden toy / one displayed book. Is it just me who wonders about those nurseries? If you completely fill up your nursery before your baby’s arrival, then what about all the STUFF that arrives subsequently? The picture above gives an idea of the miscellany of things that Rosa’s room is strewn with, and it’s only as I go through the picture that I realise how much of it is presents from people who love her: a Noah’s ark from my grandfather, a musical box from my sister, a picture of her being a bridesmaid at my brother-in-law’s wedding. It’s almost certainly the hoarder in me, but I love the fact that at only four she already has a little collection of lovely things with meaning.
Remember the reading corner? Well, it’s as beautiful and as ignored as ever. Sigh.
And here’s where she sleeps. Note Louis bear (very important member of the family) propped up on her pillow. Although Rosa is inordinately fond of all of her cuddly toys, Louis’ pre-eminence cannot be over-stated. Sometimes we momentarily lose him at bedtime. It’s never a happy moment. We all breathe a little more easily once he’s been found and peace is restored.
Furniture in this corner is a happy combination of good value and cast-off second-hand… sorry, I mean vintage. The toddler bed was from Kiddicare, the bedside table from everyone’s favourite Swedish superstore, and the bookcase I think was from Oli’s grandmother. I have a real yen to spraypaint the bed bright yellow, but I fear that will have to wait for another lifetime. I can’t describe this corner without including Rosa’s elephant blanket, which was a much-treasured present when she was a baby. Sometimes when I go in to check on her at night I will find it carefully tucked around Louis, or around some other momentarily favoured toy.
This might be the tidiest her bookcase has ever looked. It’s very well-used, and very well-loved. I am not sure what wonderful things I did in a previous life to deserve a child who loves books so much, but it is a source of constant joy to me. Of course, she is resolutely uninterested in learning to read, but my god she does love to be read to, and to sit with her favourite books reciting them to herself.
These are the pictures above her bed. In an ideal world, I would like them to be a bit lower, but the vision of pictures frames pulled down by small hands and crashing down on small heads proved too vivid even for this
lazy highly-laid-back mother. Another pleasing combination of gifts here: a picture from Sweet Dimple from Rosa’s lovely godmother, tiles from Barcelona (a gift from my aunt and uncle when she was born) mounted on hessian, W H Shepherd prints from ebay, and mirror letters from TK Maxx.
More pictures! More of a literary theme this time. Who doesn’t love the flower fairies? They are especially nostalgic for me as we had a flower fairy frieze in the room I shared with my sister as a child. And the Alice in Wonderland picture is looking for a permanent home, but leaning up on the Trofast in the meantime.
May fellow bloggers forgive me when I admit that I did seriously think about editing out some of the Disney princess dresses from this picture before I took it. I LOVE having the dressing up clothes out and hung up on hooks. It’s the perfect combination of useful and beautiful: they are all on display and accessible and easily put on and taken off. I really hate how this wall has become a shrine to flammable mock-satin. But she does really, really love them. You can just see my efforts to create a gender-neutral dressing up wardrobe here: the fab pirate outfit, the superhero cape I made her. But it’s all basically obscured by this homage to the Disney shop. Ah well.
I think I have learnt a lot from putting together Rosa’s room. Firstly about the numerous compromises to be made, in trade-offs between style and money, style and storage, style and time, style and the-preferences-of-your-preschooler. Going through the room has also made me realise how much it’s evolved – and will continue to evolve. Since taking these pictures I have started to adapt a small noticeboard for her to display pictures and other paper treasures… and we’ve also moved everything around again in order to fit India’s cot in there, too! So this is already a slightly historical record.
I spend a lot of time wondering when the house is going to be ‘finished’, and wondering when individual rooms will be ‘finished’. But actually, I think it’s more realistic to just keep working away at it, knowing that the whole house will change as we grow (both bigger, and greater in number, after November) and the things we want from it, the way we use it, and our tastes will continue to change, and the way the house looks and functions can continue to change as we do.